PILLO BYTR

NYC’s Pillo Bytr are the next level in queer mu­sic, where punk and glam rock col­lide. Their de­but sin­gle is a cover of Dead Or Alive’s clas­sic, Some­thing In My House.

DNA Magazine - - CONTENT - By Marc An­drews

DNA: Where have you been all th­ese years – we’ve been wait­ing for­ever for you!

Pillo Bytr: [Laughs] Thank you! I’ve been in other bands, DJ’d, done per­for­mance art… but I never got my own act to­gether un­til now. I went through some tough times and was liv­ing with a friend who be­lieved in me and said, “That’s it! I’m putting to­gether a band for you!”

Why the name Pillo Bytr?

Pillo Bytr is my name but it’s also the band’s name – like Sade, Bon Jovi or Gold­frapp are named af­ter the lead singer. The band that plays on the record­ings prob­a­bly won’t be the same one that will play live with me on stage. It’s a New York thing – ev­ery­one is in five dif­fer­ent bands at the same time so it’s hard to pin peo­ple down.

But the term “pil­low biter”…?

Oh, yes, it’s a slang term for a gay man, par­tic­u­larly a bot­tom who likes get­ting pounded with such fe­ro­cious force while bent over that he bites the pil­low! I just de­cided to switch up the spell­ing to make it unique.

How do you de­fine your­self in terms of gen­der and sex­u­al­ity?

I try not to. I want my au­di­ence to in­ter­pret my mu­sic and per­for­mance in their own con­text. The glam rock look I’ve cho­sen al­lows me to ex­plore my fem­i­nine at­tributes, while the more mas­cu­line sound of Pillo Bytr al­lows me to blur the lines of gen­der ex­pec­ta­tions. That’s what made peo­ple like David Bowie so rev­o­lu­tion­ary. Was he even hu­man? He was oth­er­worldly. Even when he wore make-up and dresses he oozed mas­culin­ity. The same goes for Prince. A friend of mine worked for Prince and he would al­ways say, “That was the straight­est mutha­fucka I’ve ever met. He loved pussy!” Prince was se­cure enough in his mas­culin­ity that he could play with fem­i­nine styles with to­tal con­fi­dence.

Gen­der il­lu­sion­ist, gen­der fucker, drag queen or none of the above?

Gen­der­fucker, ab­so­lutely. What I do as Pillo Bytr is still very mas­cu­line if we were to put it on a spec­trum. I’m try­ing to re­de­fine the bound­aries of what it means to be a man. I’ve been get­ting a lot of shit for not hav­ing my nails painted in the Some­thing In My House video [laughs] but that’s just who I am. I didn’t want them painted. I’m not fit­ting into any­one’s box. We love that you’ve cov­ered a Dead Or Alive pop clas­sic as your open­ing salve.

I like it when a band de­buts with a cover

ver­sion. It gives peo­ple some­thing fa­mil­iar to grab onto while in­tro­duc­ing some­one new. It’s in­ter­est­ing how the song choice came about. I al­ways felt Dead Or Alive was a punk band un­der­neath all the Stock Aitken Water­man pro­duc­tion. That’s what I wanted to ex­pose with Some­thing In My House – it’s a punk song once you strip back all the lay­ers.

There’s plenty of Dead Or Alive singer, Pete Burns’ punk spirit in Pillo Bytr, right?

Yes, there is! Dance pop has a lot of gay/queer sen­si­bil­i­ties on a very ob­vi­ous level but many for­get that LGBTIQ cul­ture had a ma­jor im­pact on rock’n’roll as well. The leather look, which is pretty much the uni­form of heavy me­tal acts, can be traced to Rob Hal­ford of Ju­das Priest. He came to re­hearsal dressed in the same leather gear he wore to the gay sex clubs and the rest of the band were like, “Yeah, that’ll be our look!” Then there’s all the ’80s glam me­tal bands like Mot­ley Crue, Poi­son, even early Guns N’Roses – they were ba­si­cally drag queens. Some­how none of their sex­u­al­i­ties were ques­tioned at the time, but they’re def­i­nitely in drag.

Glam me­tal bands like Mot­ley Crue and Poi­son were drag queens. Some­how their sex­u­al­ity wasn’t ques­tioned, but they’re def­i­nitely in drag.

Are there more cov­ers or orig­i­nal ma­te­rial for Pillo Bytr to fol­low?

We have sev­eral orig­i­nal songs in the oven, we just need to get back in the stu­dio and get them done. I’m hop­ing to have our next sin­gle Dis­tant Thun­der out shortly. It’s ready to go, we just need to film the video.

What other songs would you like to cover?

We have one more cover we’re work­ing on. It’s a Di­vine song, but I won’t tell you which one [laughs]. Di­vine is so punk rock.

Are we likely to see you per­form­ing live some­where?

Yes, Some­thing In My House has cre­ated a stir over here in New York. Not too many groups are do­ing what we’re try­ing to do – mix­ing glam rock and punk with gen­der­fuck­ery. There’s a de­mand for us to do shows, but I want to do it right. We need some more songs out and to so­lid­ify the live band’s line-up.

Who’s your diva?

Grace Jones and Siouxsie Sioux have al­ways ap­pealed to me. They’re both gen­der­fuck­ers. Grace Jones al­ways pre­sented her­self as fe­male but pushed the bound­aries by tak­ing on many tra­di­tion­ally mas­cu­line at­tributes with her sharp, square hair-do. Siouxsie had her men­ac­ing, an­gu­lar make-up, which al­most looked like war paint. Both are un­de­ni­ably fe­male but they’re not the girls next door.

Are you ro­man­ti­cally at­tached?

No, I’m a com­plete and to­tal slut and to­tally proud of it. A true Pillo Bytr, let’s say!

At the beach, speedos, board shorts or nude? Nude, if al­lowed!

What are the big is­sues that con­cern you most at present?

The po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Amer­ica is very trou­bling right now. We could do a whole in­ter­view on that alone. Lots of ha­tred, racism, and ho­mo­pho­bia are be­ing nor­mal­ized to an alarm­ing de­gree. We have Nazis openly run­ning for Congress, po­lice who kill un­armed civil­ians with im­punity, re­li­gious nut­cases crash­ing our Pride pa­rades, not to men­tion the grow­ing in­come dis­par­ity that af­fects LGBTIQ peo­ple of colour to a higher de­gree. It’s still le­gal in 31 of the 50 States to deny em­ploy­ment to some­one based on their sex­u­al­ity. We’re very much in the Dark Ages here.

What’s the one thing that might sur­prise peo­ple about you?

That I’m a com­plete geek, a nerd, a to­tal dweeb – mu­sic geek, comic book geek, you name it! I’m re­ally not cool at all and if I seem cool it’s com­pletely by ac­ci­dent.

Tell us about “some­thing in your house”.

The walls of my bed­room are cov­ered with over 15 nude male paint­ings. It’s a fringe ben­e­fit of know­ing many artists in NYC. I have more paint­ings than I know what to do with. It makes my boudoir look like an artsy sex dun­geon. What’s your mes­sage to the gay men?

Next year is the 50th an­niver­sary of Stonewall. So much has changed in that time but we still have a long way to go. The fight is not over by a long shot.

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